|summary||A useful introductory book in picking up the skills in using Ajax|
The author starts by giving a brief introduction to the different types of web pages — static and dynamic, the tools and code used to serve them.
In the second chapter which is titled "Introducing Ajax", the author dives into the philosophy and principles of Ajax and with the aid of three simple examples explains three different ways of implementing ajax in a webpage. I found this chapter to clear some of the doubts that a newbie will have about the hype surrounding ajax.
The third chapter takes a step backwards in that it gives a birds eye view of all the XHTML elements and their associated attributes. The author also provides a table which lists the most commonly used CSS 1 elements. I found this chapter more of a ready reference than an indepth thesis on XHTML and CSS.
I found the author's narration quite refreshing as he explains each concept one at a time with the aid of snippets of code, gradually building up and eventually tying all the threads together to write a true Ajax web application.
XML — eXtensible Markup Language is the successor of SGML — the language which powers HTML. XHTML on the other hand uses the XML schema. XML is a vast subject which can easily fit in a book of its own. Perhaps knowing this, and because XML plays a significant part in Ajax, the author has intelligently provided just the necessary information about XML in the sixth chapter.
The seventh chapter is a very important chapter which gives an indepth understanding of the XMLHttpRequest object which can be considered the brain behind Ajax. The author also provides some insights into the XML document object model, RSS and Web services such as SOAP.
XPath is a technology which can be used to locate and navigate the various parts of an XML. The ninth chapter gives an introduction to the syntax used by XPath.
The next two chapters explain the concept of eXtensible Stylesheet Language for Transformations (XSLT) and how it can be used to implement Ajax. XSLT can be compared in some ways to CSS but is much more powerful and can be used to display pure XML in different styles targeting diverse media. These two chapters contain all the necessary details such as the syntatic reference and snippets of code which walks one through creating an Ajax application using XSLT.
I found the book to be a valuable reference for upcoming Ajax web programmers. The number of tables listing the tags and their attributes itself will more than make up for the cost of the book. It has the right amount of content covering all pertinent topics without overwhelming the reader, which makes it a very good introductory book on Ajax.
Ravi Kumar is passionate about all things related to open source and free software and likes to share his thoughts and experiences related to these through his site "All about Linux".